News Bits: Dell Confirms AMD PCs, $100 Laptop in Thailand, Merom Power Consumption

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Dell confirms AMD-based computers

Dell is expanding its relationship with AMD by launching Dimension desktop computers featuring AMD processors next month. Dell also plans to announce a two-socket and multi-processor server using AMD Opterons by the end of the year.

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Thai children first to get $100 laptop

Over 500 children in Thailand are expected to receive the $100 laptop in October and November for ‘quality testing and debugging’.

The One Laptop Per Child program hopes to send out 5 to 7 million laptops to Thailand, Nigeria, Brazil, and Argentina in 2007. Thailand is expected to buy 1 million in the first year.  The $100 laptop uses a free Linux operating system and flash memory in place of a hard drive. It runs on electricity created by a hand or foot pump.

Other countries, including China and Egypt, have expressed interest in the program, but India has not decided to take part in the first round.

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Yonah could be better than Merom for notebooks for power consumption

Although the Intel Merom (Core 2 Duo) processor will bring performance improvements over the Yonah (Core Duo), it won’t run cooler as many had hoped.  Currently, the top-of-the-line Core Duo processor, the T2700, has a TDP of 31W at 2.33GHz. All of the Core 2 Duos will have a TDP of 34W, even the lowest-end T5500 (1.66GHz). The 1.66GHz Core Duo T2300E, in comparison, has a TDP of 27W.

In battery mode, the Core 2 Duo processors downclock to 1.0GHz and 0.75V. However, the TDP is still 20W. The Core Duo downclocks to 1.0GHz and 0.95V in comparison, yet the TDP is 13.1W.

Intel is going to try to counter the thermal problems with Low Voltage and Ultra Low Voltage models. Apparently, Merom’s advantage over Yonah is in performance only and not power consumption.

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Acer could outpace Toshiba in global notebook ranking in 2006

Acer’s total volume of notebook orders is expected to surpass 8 million units this year, ahead of Toshiba’s 7-8 million. In comparison, HP and Dell each have full-year orders of 11-12 million notebooks. Acer will likely become the third-largest brand this year, pushing Toshiba back to fourth place.

Toshiba has kept its 3rd place spot since Q4 2002, when Acer was in 6th place. Taiwan notebook makers consider HP to be Acer’s major competitor, not Dell. Acer still has the lead over HP in Europe, thanks to their pricing advantage and order-to-ship period.

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Dell reports 51% earnings drop

Dell experienced yet another tough quarter in Q2. Although they were able to slightly increase their sales, they had a sharp decline in net earnings. Compared to last year, profits dropped from $1.02 billion to $502 million. Dell said in a press release that although aggressive pricing in a slower market resulted in a record market share of 19.3%, it also resulted in lower operating income, which was lower than its May expectations on similar revenue.

CEO Kevin Rollins said he was disappointed with the quarter result, but commented that Dell is taking steps to correct the mistakes (to put it bluntly). “Key actions include accelerating cost initiatives, increasing investments in service and support, and better pricing management.”

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Apple releases MacBook SMC firmware update

Apple recently released an SMC firmware update which could rid MacBooks of the “moo” noises. The new firmware update “adjusts firmware behavior” in the MacBook according to Apple; the fan was identified as the cause of the noises. The firmware update also helps reduce the MacBooks overall temperature.

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ASmobile – new brand for Asustek-manufactured notebooks

Digitimes is reporting that Asustek Computer will introduce the “ASmobile” brand for the clone (whitebox) notebook market shortly. All of Asustek’s clone notebooks will utilize the new brand after that. Sources say it will be released in Q4 2006. Asustek predicts shipments of 100,000 – 200,000 units in 2006, and more in 2007.

The purpose of the brand is to show more flexibility. ASmobile-branded notebooks will feature a slim and light-weight design. They are not targeted to compete in price wars. Asustek is aiming to repeat the success of ASRock-branded motherboards. ASmobile notebooks will not target the low-price segment, but more toward “value-added applications”, such as DIY and desktop replacement segments.

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Battery recalls could cost Sony $430m

Although Dell is suffering from bad press over the 4.1 million laptop battery recall, it looks like Sony, the maker of the batteries, will take the financial burden.

The recalled batteries could cost Sony close to $430 million according to speculation from analysts. The range of the costs will depend on whether or not the PC makers complain about gear supplied by Sony. Customers of Sony include HP, Apple, and Lenovo. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating other non-Dell products which use Sony batteries.

Dell doesn’t expect to see any financial impact from the battery recall, but it could be hit with slower sales in the coming months. It has been spending millions to repair its image and boost sales.

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